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Messages - andrew

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Davies Family / Re: Letters to The Boys’ Children
« on: October 06, 2020, 08:06:38 PM »
Will do, although they're unedited so some might be relatively boring and/or off the point. The next batch is for 1977, when "The Lost Boys" was in limbo with the BBC owing to a strike. I used the time to head off to California and write some other rubbish to pay the bills. The delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Ian Holm was struck down with cbhicken-pox and couldn't have played Barrie had we shot in then ...

As you may have noticed, Tom Owen and I are putting in a big chunk of time and effort to bring the site into the 21st century. I'm reuploading/rescanning loads of images, as well as adding many new photos, without splattering them with watermarks; moreover they can now be viewed in chronological order rather than a random jumble. It'll take many weeks, but I'm determined to create a site that's finally worthy of its subject ...

Davies Family / Re: Letters to The Boys’ Children
« on: October 03, 2020, 04:27:08 PM »
None that I am aware of, although as you say, he must’ve written to some of them. If any have been sold, they’re bound to wind up at Beinecke, so it’s worth checking in with them from time to time to see what new acquisitions they’ve made.
I’m amazed that you discovered my cache of letters so quickly – I thought I’d squirrel them away, and let some future biographer discover them. Let me know if and when you finish trawling through them, and I’ll upload the next batch for what they’re worth ...
JMBarrie / Re: Did Gerrie Dislike JMB?
« on: September 19, 2020, 07:08:54 PM »
I wouldn't say that Gerrie actively disliked Barrie, but she was no doubt heavily influenced by Jack's mild aversion to "the little Baronet" or "Guardy" as he rather disparagingly referred to him in his letters to her (see pages 261-263 in my book). Had it not been for his money and extreme generosity, I'm sure that both Jack and Gerrie would have kept their distance. As it was - and as the scores of letters from Barrie to Gerrie and Jack testify - they almost entirely depended on him to keep them in the manner to which they were both accustomed, as well as footing the bill for their children's private education.
Why did she disike him?  Again, I think "dislike" is too strong a word; I would say that she was not particularly drawn to him, in the same way that I'm not particularly drawn to a whole bunch of people, but that doesn't mean to say that I dislike them: they're just simply not my cup of tea. I think it only fair to add that neither Nico nor Daphne and her sister Angela du Maurier cared to much for Gerrie either, although all three adored Uncle Jim.
I am gradually uploading all Barrie's letters to Gerrie, so perhaps from these you'll get a better handle on the chemistry (or lack thereof) between them.
Davies Family / JMB's letters to George ...
« on: September 06, 2020, 03:20:15 PM »
I've finally started uploading all of Barrie's letters to George Llewelyn Davies that survive - some of the finest that he ever wrote to anyone, though we'll never know about the ones written to Michael. Peter included many of these JMB-George letters in his Morgue, together with his illuminating comments. However Nico had a number of others that must have passed Peter by; these are presumably now in the Beinecke collection, but before giving them to GOSH, I scanned them all. Deciphering Barrie's handwriting prior to 1917 (when he switched from right to left) is never easy, and where I couldn't read a word I've put [???] - so if anyone out there can do better than me, please feel free to add your best-guess in the comments window.

Database / Re: Pictures for Database
« on: September 05, 2020, 06:39:27 PM »
You're absolutely right - "The Letters of J M Barrie" are an absolute goldmine of great lines, many of which I lifted and used in my BBC "Lost Boys". We've scanned the whole book and are currently uploading them, letter by letter, into the database, but all of this takes time. If you'd like to help, feel free to email me at ...
General topic / Re: John Michael Asquith
« on: September 05, 2020, 02:20:35 PM »
In the non-PC 70s, Nico referred to John in a letter to me as Cynthia's "oldest (dotty) son". According to Nicola Beauman's excellent 1987 biography, Cynthia was wholly unsuited to the task of bringing up a difficult child, and - in common with many another privileged mother - farmed him out to a series of nannies, none of whom had much success with a boy who longed for his frequently absent mother.

Autism - or the milder form known as Asperger's Syndrome - was first described by Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger during WW2. In the 1950s the so-called "refrigerator mother theory" emerged as an explanation for autistic behaviour. This hypothesis was based on the idea that it stemmed from "the emotional frigidity, lack of warmth, and cold, distant, rejecting demeanor of a child's mother."  Although there may well have been other contributing factors, both genetic and environmental, this sounds to me like the root cause of John's un happy life, and an apt description of Cynthia herself.

In 1920, at the age of 9, John was sent to a boarding school for backward children. Nicola Beauman quotes the headmaster's report when John left in 1926, aged 16:

"The Asquith family knows there is mental disorder as well as a very marked deficiency and until the age of 10 years when John came to this school he had had no continuity of teaching, management or control and was thoroughly spoilt and out of hand. ... The trouble recently has been that he shows a great deal of nervous irritation and bad temper and screams with no provocation whatever. A severe nosebleed often follows these attacks and seems to relieve his feelings. He will repeat all the bad words and nasty names he knows (which fortunately is a limited list). He would throw things and be destructive but wouldn’t be harmful to others or himself barring an accident – and I have never known him retaliate even if another child is aggressive. He has very few interests but seems to like the sight and sound of life around him. Music pleases him and motoring and he can play cricket. He walks well, talks very little, can wash and dress himself under supervision, and there is no trouble with regard to food. Until the recent mental changes he could be relied on to behave well and was usually cheerful and content."

The school doctor reported that "dementia precox [= schitzophrenia] is supervening upon his amentia [= congenital mental disability]".

In August 1926, John was admitted to the Crichton Royal Institution near Dumfries in Scotland, where regular sedatives were given to the inmates. A long and detailed report was made upon John's arrival. "Personal history: His father says that he was the first baby, that the labour was difficult and instrumental and that the head was very dented after birth. General type, appearance and condition: Pale, anaemic looking youth, childish and feeble minded. Has many mannerisms. Given to screaming at times. His physical health appears to be sound, his mental state simple and childish“.

By 1930 he was reported as being“more enfeebled, idle, apathetic, and uninterested, walks like an old man. Masturbates. Won’t speak.“ By 1932 there was little change except “much enfeebled in mind“ and by 1934 he was “demented and idle… Cannot converse“.

By March 1937, when he was nearly 26, John appeared “to be weaker physically… Slight cough“.  On 21 May, Cynthia received a telegram stating that John had "collapsed this AM" and had died of a heart attack.

Cynthia wrote in her diary: “I can only be deeply thankful about John - it is the most blessed thing that could have happened, but inevitably it takes one back to old delights and old despair and that’s what had long been frozen.“  In my view, this entry speaks volumes about Cynthia, as does the photo linked by Dani1923.
JMBarrie / Re: About the "Kissing pretty boys" article
« on: August 20, 2020, 11:01:11 AM »
To the best of my knowledge there are no house rules that prevent you from posting anything you like, so long as it isn't racist/sexist/libellous/fake news etc - so feel free to talk about "it", whatever "it" might be...
JMBarrie / Re: About the "Kissing pretty boys" article
« on: August 18, 2020, 01:24:43 PM »
Barrie wrote the article "Pretty Boys" under his pseudonym "Hippomenes" in The Nottingham Journal on 28 January 1884. As Brutus points out, this was intended as a spoof, sending up the then fashion among middle-class mothers of dressing up their pretty little boys to look like pretty little girls. A couple of years later, Frances Hodgson Burnett took the fashion to new heights in her best-selling book, Little Lord Fauntleroy, so in some sense Barrie beat her to it.

I quoted a chunk of the article in my book, but have just uploaded a photocopy of the whole thing to the database - just search for "pretty boys".  In passing, I spotted the name of my great grandfather - "Mr T I Birkin" - on the same page, presiding as a JP on the Magistrates' Court bench. He was extremely wealthy, having founded the business that made Nottingham lace curtains, but nonetheless seems to have condemned some poor sap to six week's hard labour for stealing an overcoat in the dead of winter. From such merciful stock have I evolved ...
General topic / Re: Ian Holm, 1931-2020
« on: June 19, 2020, 10:22:43 PM »
Ian changed my life in so many ways ...  He was the most generous of men, and my debt to him is immeasurable, not only in his portrayal of JMB (to those who had known Barrie, Ian was Barrie) but also his interpretations of Anno's poems, never to be surpassed.  Bless you, Ian. I have never known such pleasure working with any other actor, before or since.
Davies Family / Re: What Exactly Was Dark And Morbid About Rupert Buxton ?
« on: February 24, 2020, 08:17:34 PM »
Nothing, so far as anyone other than Boothby has ever alleged, and Nico was of the opinion that Boothby may well have been motivated by jealousy.
JMBarrie / Re: Barrie's Notebooks
« on: February 17, 2020, 05:03:40 PM »
I've now added my 1976 transcription of Barrie's sprawling Notebook #14 - fascinating to anyone interested  in his developing work, as well as the many oblique references to his future wife, Mary Ansell ...
JMBarrie / Barrie's Notebooks
« on: January 29, 2020, 04:16:26 PM »
I'm gradually uploading my 1976 selected transcripts from Barrie's notebooks. I say selected because I was initially only looking for good lines that I might be able to fillet into my Lost Boys scripts, but I became so engrossed and intrigued that I found it hard to resist typing up more and more, particularly as I became increasingly familiar with his scrawl. The notes are IMHO among his most pleasurable writings, a wonderful mix of canny observations, witticisms, characters and storylines. Of course those familiar with Barrie's novels and plays will derive additional pleasure in spotting their gradual evolution, but even if you've never read a single line of his other than Peter Pan, these notes are a treasure-trove of delights ...
JMBarrie / Re: Barrie autograph
« on: January 11, 2020, 03:23:02 PM »
Yes, they are both genuine autograph signatures in my opinion, "Quality Street" using his left hand, "Margaret Ogilvy" more probably with his right.
Davies Family / Mary Hodgson
« on: December 02, 2019, 02:08:30 PM »
For those interested in knowing a little more about Mary Hodgson, here's a brief account written at my request by her niece, Mary Hill, in 1976:

Mary Hodgson (Dadge to her family) was born on 16 October 1875 and died in December 1962. She was the fifth daughter and eighth child of Thomas and Mary Hodgson (Wilson) of K[irby] Lonsdale, Westmoreland. Thomas was a stonemason and sculptor of lettering on memorials. He died at the age of 42, leaving a widow with eight children. The two eldest had died in infancy.
Any plans for the future of the younger children had to be abandoned, my grandmother insisting that there was to be no favouritism.
My aunt could remember little of her father, and all her life had a very close attachment with her mother, as did all the family. In Mary's case, particularly so, for throughout her life, when in doubt she turned to her mother for advice.
The eldest brother emigrated to Australia and was later joined by a younger one. My aunt was corresponding with the family until her death.
On leaving the local school, she went as nursemaid in the family of Maurice Llewelyn Davies, and after five years became under-nurse and then nurse in the family of Arthur, the youngest brother. At this time the Rev Llewelyn Davies was the vicar of K. Lonsdale; my grandfather had been a sidesman at his church and the boys in the family were all choristers.
At the time she joined the Arthur Llewelyn Davies family there were three boys, George (who lost his life in the early part of the 1914-18 war) Jack and Peter, to be followed by Michael and Nicolas.
It was Grandma du Maurier, the boys’ maternal grandmother, who introduced my aunt to the family library and advised her on what books to read. My aunt's expression was that she was “taken under her wing". At one point in her time off, she became involved in a meeting addressed by Mrs Pankhurst. This did not meet with Mrs du Maurier's approval, or my grandmother’s.
The early and tragic death of the boys’ father shocked her deeply, and when it was followed by the mother's death, she was deeply distressed.
When the boys were quite small, JMB came into the picture and walks with the children in Kensington Gardens less pleasurable. She did not like her charges being taken over by a strange little man. Later she came to look upon him as an intrusion in the life of the family, and this she met with disapproval.
When it was made known that JMB had been made the children's guardian, she was very upset. She had taken it that the guardianship would be in the family.
She now was not only the children's nurse, but was also in charge of the complete household, including staff, and responsible to JMB. This latter she did not enjoy. The thing that she disapproved of most of all was the subsequent divided loyalties forced upon the boys, JMB fulfilling their every wish, every request been granted. This she considered was a bad thing. Boys should find life a challenge and be trained to meet it. To be given everything was not accepted as a character building effort.
Naturally, as Nicolas was the youngest member of the family and "my baby", she was particularly attached to him, and he to her. Eventually the time arrived when she considered that the boys should be handed over to the sole charge of JMB, and this was done. Nevertheless, she joined in their holidays, being once again responsible for the organisation of the household and for the family and their guests. Organisation it had to be, especially when the house taken by JMB was out in the wilds of Scotland.
Mrs Churchill's mother had always been a welcome guest at the Llewelyn Davies family and in the nursery, and at the time when JMB took over the boys, this was put to good use. Through JMB and at his suggestion, contact was made with Winston Churchill – my aunt had decided that she should go into the munitions factory and help to win the [First World] war. This was not possible as in a personal letter to my aunt, he stated that in the factories he required big strong women, and to train others was a waste of time and effort. My aunt was certainly not big and strong in that sense.
Now she applied to Queen Charlotte’s, to train as a pupil midwife. Here she was again in difficulty – she was 40 years of age, and her years as a children's nurse were considered a handicap rather than an asset. Determination was called for, and eventually she was accepted.
In 1916 the fees for training were demanding on her purse: £35 for a six month course for pupil midwives, £25 for a twelve month course – a limited number only. £1 registration fee.
That her daughter should take up midwifery was an affront to my grandmother, who considered that married women, widows, and possibly wives of clergyman should be in this occupation. This distressed my aunt greatly, because my grandmother refused to take any interest in her work for a very long time. It was not until a Kirby Lonsdale woman died in childbirth, in circumstances that were beyond my grandmother's comprehension and that my aunt could explain, that the situation was eased.
When at Queen Charlotte’s, my aunt had worked mostly in the very poor areas when on the district and had a great admiration for her "ladies" as she called them. Their courage and the camaraderie of the people always amazed her. In her experience she found that whatever was missing from home that was an absolute necessity could always be willingly provided by a neighbour, be it pail, or kettle of boiling water or even clean newspaper. Very occasionally after a “misunderstanding” with a neighbour, it was essential that the request was made by the midwife in person. She also learned that there were areas in London where on a “night-call” her uniform was considered a safe entry, more so than a police escort. On asking a policeman for escort in a particularly down and out area, her reply was – you'll be better without me.
After some time at Queen Charlotte’s, she was asked by two of her friends there to go into partnership in a nursing home, the greater part of the financing of it to be taken over by the two friends in the initial stages. This they did and the nursing home [at] 17 Balcombe Street was in the names of MacAndrew, Heron and Hodgson. The nursing home was in some way connected with the local council. There were always pupil-nurses in training there, by arrangement with the council.
The Second World War was at hand and 17 Balcombe St. was on the list for evacuation. This was done with reluctance, and after some delay. Eventually the police would wait no longer and many journeys were made by bus and ambulance to take the patients to safety. The work completed, the friends separated. Almost immediately the home suffered bomb damage and Miss Heron, the youngest partner travelled to Balcombe St. to see what damage been done. Before she could achieve this, the house was hit by an oil-bomb and almost everything was lost, my aunt having the least to lose. The one loss that distressed her the most of all was an under-the-bed wardrobe – and the article in it that caused her such grief was a dress – unworn – that had been made for her. The reason she had not worn it was a set of unusual circumstances at the home that made it impossible for her to attend the wedding of Nicholas, except in her nurse’s uniform. When I expressed surprise that she had been allowed into the service by the usher, her reply was – They knew me, I just slipped in and out and no one was the wiser.
My aunt then went to live at Halkyn, North Wales, sharing a cottage with her two sisters, which they had purchased for retirement some years earlier. Miss MacAndrew of the Balcombe St. partnership was to join her there and she died there.
My aunt eventually sold the cottage and lived with her youngest brother and his family in Morecambe. On his death she came to my home in Leeds. My two daughters loved her very much and spent many happy hours in her company. Her stories of the Llewelyn Davies family and especially her own childhood days always fascinated them.
To open Helen Bradley's "And Miss Carter Wore Pink" is to see absolute corroboration of the stories she told. The funeral scene is almost word for word.
My aunt's favourite reading, having daily perused the Daily Telegraph and Yorkshire Post was a Book of Friendship given to her by Emily du Maurier in 1909 and the Epistles of St Paul.
She expressed great admiration for (1) Sylvester Horne, the father of Kenneth Horne - she attended many of his services. (2) For General [William] Booth [founder of the Salvation Army] and his sister, for their devotion to the poor. (3) Dr Rendel, who attended the [Llewelyn Davies] family. (4) Dr Alex Bourne at Queen Charlotte’s, and for Dr Roche Lyne, the pathologist.
I am of the opinion that the "Hudson Back Walk" mentioned by my sister Joan was a legacy from walks in Kensington Gardens.

Davies Family / Re: Jack's letters to Gerrie
« on: December 02, 2019, 01:07:45 PM »
No doubt Jack's attitude towards JMB was at least shaded by the fact that "the little Baronet" was supplementing Jack's naval salary with fairly regular cheques, as well as paying Timothy's private school fees. Virtually all JMB's letters to either J or G enclose money; here's a typical one from 1921, shortly after Timothy's birth:

My dear Jack
Herewith my cheque for £200* with all the pleasure in life. The new arrangement to begin with Timmy’s entrance upon the scene, as I want to be in that to the limited extent possible. It was a real happiness to me to see you both in so pleasant a home and I give Gerry high marks for the skill and taste with which she has beautified it. Most of all of course I am happy in seeing you both so devoted to each other, a good wife and a good husband, things that bring all day long a rich reward.
By the way I think you will like to know that it was Peters own proposal to go to see you. He rang me up and proposed it. He is now in the throes of getting into the new house.
Nico’s long leave is on Saturday but he has only that day here as he and Bridgeman are booked for Sunday and Monday by their friend Knebworth, and I am going too. But he must get a sight of number 12.

* Around £10,000/$13,000 in today's money ...
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